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Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

What can Arsenal expect from Park Chu-young?

Posted by Seamus Walsh on September 2, 2011

For him to be known as Park Ju-young from now on, for a start. Romanisation of Korean is confusing and overall not very good. His name hasn’t changed, just the way he writes it in Roman letters. The Korean spelling remains 박주영, but as the player himself has requested to be known as Park Ju-young then that’s how he will be known on this blog, too.

It seems to me that most Arsenal fans are wishing Park well whilst not expecting too much from him. This will probably suit him. There’s going to be much more pressure on, say, Mikel Arteta or Per Mertesacker, than there will be on Park to come in and perform from the off. (Adding hyperlinks not working, sorry. Here are the links that should be in this section: http://arseblog.com/2011/08/three-in-more-to-come/ http://gunnerblog.com/2011/09/01/transfer-frenzy-5-signings-in-2-days/ http://adamsummerton.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/dont-blame-park-chu-young/

The best way to measure what Park can bring to Arsenal is to first look at what their objectives are. First and foremost they need to finish in the top four in the league. The teams ahead of them have arguably strengthened, but Arsenal should be more concerned with the teams who finished last season just below them this time round in order to maintain their top four status. Tottenham don’t have anough, in my opinion, to oust the Gunners. In some people’s minds Liverpool are top four material, perhaps even title challengers. You’ll find none of that sort of talk here, though. I predict a 5th place finish for Liverpool, owing to the signings Arsenal have brought in.

So of those signings, what does Park himself bring? Experience, talent, commitment in abundance – we’re nott alking about the sort of player who would stand for implosion at the end of last season. He’s a tough guy mentally and has had problems and made mistakes in the past that he’s very clearly learned from. He’s the captain of his national side for a reason. Korean culture places a great emphasis on age and hierarchy. At 30, Park Ji-sung was the older brother of the team – the most experienced and succesful player not just of his generation, not just that the country had ever produced but of all players ever to come out of the largest and most populous continent on earth. Upon his retirement, the fact that this role was passed to Park Ju-young is very telling. Park Ju-young was not immature or inexperienced before he became captain, but I get the sense that he will now be demanding even more from himself now. He is already becoming the leader and inspiration for a very talented group of young Korean players (Lee Chung-yong, Ki Sung-yong, Son Heung-min, Koo Ja-Cheol, Nam Tae-hee, Ji Dong-won, Jung Sung-ryong, Lee Seung-ryeol etc etc). He has always tried to set an example with his performances and his behaviour, and now is clearly becoming more vocal and driven.

This should be looking good for Arsenal fans. That’s the sort of player they need, and the situation at Arsenal is in that respect similar to the current South Korean national setup. South Korea is a fairly small country with a fairly small population, and yet one that is mad about football. They have always produced good technical players with the right attitude, who work hard and play attractive, passing, attacking football. They are ambitious but have sometimes found it hard to match results to their ambition, competing against the comparative financial muscle of the Japanese domestic game and the vastly larger populations of their neighbouring countries. Despite that, however, the current group of South Korean elite in the roughly 18-23 years old age range is arguably the best ever. Unfortunately, the same could also be said of Japan. So much of this corresponds loosely to Arsenal’s current situation, and the fact that Park has been involved with this on a national level and has maintained high performances and become a leader bodes well.

Some have criticised his goalscoring record. Personally I wouldn’t say it’s worthy of criticism, but neither is it spectacular. His last season with Monaco was very good, despite the fact that the team as a whole was abismal, getting relegated. Park scored a third of Monaco’s goals last season, notching 12 in 33 league games for a relegated club. RVP scored a quarter of Arsenal’s league goals last season.

Undoubtedly RVP will be relied upon again to provide the main goalscoring threat this season, but Park provides an interesting addition. Let’s say they were to play in the same team. RVP would obviously be leading the line, giving Park a bit more freedom to use his pace and deceptive movement off the ball around the edge of the area, bringing in other players, moving the defence around and allowing van Persie to do his thing. It’s safe to assume that he’ll grab a few goals himself in the process. That would mean an essentially 4-4-2 formation (although perhaps more like a 4-4-1-1), most likely with Gervinho on the left of the midfield and Walcott on the right. Arteta is capable of providing exactly the sort of subtle, clever passes that Park thrives on from the middle of the pitch. I can’t see Wenger deploying this sort of formation if they were to come up against the likes of Barcelona again, though, meaning Park would probably drop to the bench.

He is also capable of playing anywhere across a front 3, of which the same can be said of Gervinho and arguably Walcott, so Wenger has options, including Chamack, who is a more traditional centre forward.

As to how he will fit into the squad, he’s a bright personality, positive, highly intelliegent in a traditional and footballing sense, very dedicated to his football and deeply religious. He’s also obviously spent a while in France, which makes him perfectly suited to this Arsenal squad considering its makeup and the background of the players – and manager.

All in all, a solid signing. Expect a couple of missed sitters, a decent haul of goals (but not enough to outdo RVP) and an overall good contribution to the team. And excellent value at that price, even if he does have to do military service after the Olympics.*


*Korean players are excused form military service if they medal at the London Olympics. Park is a fairly safe bet as an overage player, and Korea do have a good crop of players in th right age range at the moment.


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South Korea – Ivory Coast

Posted by Seamus Walsh on March 7, 2010

It seems sensible to make the first real post on this blog one about the most recent match by the South Korean national side, which took place in London on Wednesday, when South Korea beat the Ivory Coast 2-0. I think this is a fantastic result for the Koreans, and it looks like they played with unity and purpose. What they need to do now is become more consistent. The top players are playing well enough for their clubs, but the national side has lost to the likes of Zambia and China since the start of this year, although they’ve also managed to beat teams like Japan, Finland and now the Ivory Coast.

지난 주 수요일에 영국 런던에서 한국은 코트디부아르를 2-0으로 이겼다. 아주 좋은 결과였고 한국 팀이 너무 잘 한 것 같다. 이제부터 그냥 더 한결같아야 된다. 최근 잠비아, 중국 같은 나라한테 져서 그렇게 강하지 않은 팀과 경기할 때도 이번처럼 똑같이 잘 해야 된다. 특히 일본, 핀란드, 코트디부아르 같은 잘 하는 팀을 이겼으니까 그렇다.

One issue I do have with this latest result, however, is that it was ostensibly used as practice for facing Nigeria in their World Cup group, under the belief that the two teams have similar styles. I think this shows a slight misunderstanding on the part of the Korean officials – the Ivory Coast and Nigeria may be on the same continent but that certainly does not mean they play the same style of football. Having said that, the Ivory Coast are a quick and powerful side, much like Nigeria. Both sides also have the luxury of having the majority of their squads playing in Europe’s top leagues.

코트디부아르하고 한국의 월드컵 그룹의 팀 중에 하나인 나이지리아는 축구를 하는 스타일이 비슷해서 앞으로 있을 나이지리아전대비에 좋을 것이라는 말이 있었다. 근데 내 생각엔 스타일이 그렇게 비슷하지 않은 것 같다. 같은 대륙인데도 똑같은 스타일로 축구를 하는 게 아니다. 그 건 맞긴 맞는 것 같은데도 둘다 빠르고 힘 센 팀들이고 둘다 유럽의 최고 리그들에서 뛰는 선수가 많다.

Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba

Taking these similarities, South Korea needed to find a style of play and tactics that could be used to overcome other apparent disadvantages. Short passing, tireless running and clever movement off the ball are what’s needed against such quick and strong teams, and luckily this is the default style for the Koreans. Defensively they were well-organised, and managed to stifle Didier Drogba and Aruna Dindane. They missed Park Chu-young, an excellent forward who makes clever runs up front, can create chances for other players, and has scored almost a goal every two games for Monaco this season.

그 걸 가지고 한국 팀은 이런 선수, 팀을 극복할 수 있는 스타일과 작전을 써야 된다. 이런 경기에선 한국이 특별히 잘 하는 짧고 빠른 패스, 지칠 줄 모르고 똑똑하게 뛰는 것은 제일 잘 될 것 같다. 이 번에 수비를 잘 해 가지고 코트디부아르의 최고 선수인 디디에 드록바가 아무 중요한 역할도 하지 못하게 했다. 박주영만 있었으면 조금 더 잘 했을 수도  있었을 텐데. 박주영이 앞으로 잘 뛰고 다른 선수를 위해 좋은 패스를 해 주고 이번 시즌에 모나코에서 거의 2 경기당 1 골을 넣어 왔다.

The lineup for the match against the Ivory Coast was as follows:

Lee Woon-Jae

Cha Du-ri          Cho Yong-hyung          Lee Jung-soo          Lee Young-pyo

Park Ji-sung          Kim Jung-woo          Ki Sung-yeung          Lee Chung-yong

Lee Dong-gook          Lee Keun-ho

Substitutions made:

Ahn Jung-hwan for Lee Keun-ho (46)

Kim Nam-il for Lee Dong-gook (46)

Kwak Tae-hwi for Lee Jung-soo (61)

Kim Jae-sung for Ki Sung-Yeung (77)

Unused substitutes:

Jung Sung-ryong, Kim Young-kwang, Kim Dong-jin, Oh Beom-seok, Kim Hung-il, Shin Hyung-min, Kim Bo-kyung, Lee Seung-yeoul

I think the way manager Huh Jung-moo used is substitutions is interesting, especially considering that he changed the formation for the second half. Lee Dong-gook scored an early goal in the first half, when the team was playing in a standard 4-4-2 formation. I think one of the best things about this Korea side is how they can really stretch the opposition by using quick wingers and full backs. Cha Du-ri and Lee Young-pyo get forward very well to help the attack, and the opposition can find this difficult to deal with, especially with Park Ji-sung and Lee Chung-yong playing in front of them as well. I believe this is the formation Huh will want to start with against Greece in their opening game on the 12th of June, and may well choose to play like this again against Nigeria, although I think the formation he used in the second half on Wednesday is more likely to be the one he opts for against the quick, attacking passing style of Argentina.

At the start of the second half, Korea brought on the experienced striker Ahn Jung-hwan for Lee Keun-ho, but also brought on hard-tackling holding midfielder Kim Nam-il for the other striker, Lee Dong-gook. This meant that Ahn was playing up fornt on his own, with Kim Nam-il and Kim Jung-woo anchoring the midfield, Ki Sung-yeung providing the creativity from the middle, and the two wide men, Park and Lee, able to drop back to create a five-man midfield when the opposition were in possession, and also able to go forward to make a front three in support of Ahn.

New Celtic signing Ki Sung-yeung, South Korea's creative spark in the centre

I would also be curious to have seen Kim Dong-jin play at left back, as I don’t think Lee Young-pyo is quite as impressive as he has been in previous years, although Kim has had his own problems. Still, it could have been useful to see how he performs for the national side following his move back to Korea. Lee Seung-yeoul of F.C. Seoul is another player who certainly has the potential to add something to this Korean side, but I think he will have to wait ’til after this World Cup before he gets a run in the national side to really show what he can do. I do think he would be a good partner for Park Chu-young up front, but he needs to improve his goal scoring first. Also, if Lee Dong-gook can maintain this standard of performance, his experience will surely mean he starts up front with Park when Korea play in a 4-4-2 formation. When they play with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation that they did in the second half in London, Park is clearly the outstanding forward in the current Korean squad, so although he naturally prefers to play with a strike partner, he must still be selected to play alone up front when Huh decides such a formation is needed.

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